Eating Disorder Recovery · Uncategorized

Fitness in Recovery

I am trying to learn how to trust my body again and wondering if I can after all that I put it through. It would be a fair assessment that over the years I have demanded a lot from it. I expected it to keep my heart beating, my blood circulating and my brain functioning as well as asking it to go above and beyond in the work outs that I made myself do. I treated it in a way that I would not treat my worst enemy and I refused to listen to its protests or pleas. I was cruel and unforgiving and yet now I am asking for it to forgive me. I am asking it to give me the opportunity to make it stronger and hoping that it chooses to not give up on me in the process. There was a time when I gave in to the Anorexia and as a result one of the behaviours I engaged in was excessively exercising. The gym was the only place I would leave my house to go to when things were at their worst. Once there I would spend hours trying to manipulate my body into a shape that I hoped to find acceptable and even though in reality I could never attain that body, it didn’t stop me from trying and when I failed, exercise was about punishing myself for that failure. What I was trying to achieve was unrealistic and not in the physical sense, I could have trained it into what I thought was the perfect size, what was unrealistic though was expecting myself to be able to see it. My eating disorder would never let me see a true representation of myself and whenever I hit a new number or beat a personal best, it still was not enough. I still saw all the things that I perceived was wrong. In those moments I hated working out. I hated stretching my body and feeling the way it moved because it was frustrating to give something my everything and not feel that I was working hard enough. The hours would tick by, the fatigue would set in and I would refuse to let myself go home. I was brutal and sadistic which was at complete odds with who I was as a person.

The first time I was admitted into treatment was terrifying because I knew that exercise was going to be taken away from me. I was going to have to sit still for long periods of time and eat and not be able to do anything to balance it out. At that point, I wasn’t able to grasp the internal damage that I was doing to myself. In some ways I thought I was invincible and whenever someone suggested that maybe I had taken it a little too far, I shrugged it off whilst thinking they were talking nonsense. Stopping though, letting my body rest and the outcome of that shocked me to my core. Within a few days, all that excessive energy burned away and I was left with what I had been trying to outrun for a long time. Pain, exhaustion and damage. I could barely stand or breathe and walking a few steps left me dizzy and faint. It was hard to figure out how I’d gone from running x amount of km to not being able to navigate a set of stairs. It reminded me that I was human and not a machine which again was something I was not ready to face up to.

When I left, exercise was extremely triggering for me and I never quite got my weight or diet to a point where it was going to be safe enough for me to re-engage. I missed it and that missing made me feel so powerless and despairing. The times that I stepped back into the fitness world were met with palpitations and spells of light-headedness. I have this problem where I can’t gauge how hard I am working and whether that’s too much or not enough. In classes, I expected myself to keep up with those who had hadn’t had months of enforced bed rest. It was frustrating and I just couldn’t recapture that feeling which I had sought out. Instead it became about how many calories I could burn, weight loss and changing the outside with little thought for the inside.

I ended up with admission two.

I’ve been out of the hospital for a while now. I have wanted to get back to fitness for some time but the thought has scared me. I have such a tentative grip on recovery that the thought of doing something to loosen that a little bit more is difficult to imagine. I know that I can’t go back to the life I was living before, partly because it might kill me and partly because if it didn’t then I would probably end up doing it myself. That’s a shit thought but it’s also a true one. For a while I’ve been doing a lot of walking, maybe sometimes too much and maybe sometimes for the wrong reasons. I could keep it in check though but doing it doesn’t make me feel strong. I am really tired of people looking at me and thinking I’m weak. My parents still get stressed if I attempt to carry heavy shopping into their house and they act as if I’m breakable. The kids are told off if they get a bit too enthusiastic around me in case they hurt me. What hurts is to been seen like that because I’m not weak anymore but I understand their fear. I am weight restored, my bones no longer run the risk of snapping like they used to. I just need people to see that too. About a year and half ago, I wrote on here about an attack that happened at my previous home and how it left me shaken quite badly. Afterwards I wanted to learn a self defence but my physicality wasn’t quite at a standard that would allow it. It has been something that I have still wanted to do though and so today I went to my first martial arts class in over 10 years. I loved it. Pushing myself, learning something, going back to my kickboxing roots felt amazing. The anxiety comes from not knowing how far my body will let me take it though. I should trust it but I’m worried that those years are waiting to undo me just as I am beginning to rebuild what I broke. Before the class I informed the instructor that I was coming back from an illness and may need to take a break at points, however once I started pride kicked in and I was focused on keeping up with everybody else. I did but of course it will come with a price. Admittedly the aches kicked in pretty much as soon as the adrenaline left my body and I know tomorrow is going to hurt. A lot! Still, it felt like a win because it’s the first time that I can remember working out and my main motivation was not weight loss. I hope I can carry on going and that still be the case because this time I really am doing this to be good to my mind, soul and body.

I hope your day has been kind to you.


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